Understanding the Power of Ethnic Consumers in Canada

Understanding the Power of Ethnic Consumers in Canada

There are approximately 7.7 million ethnic consumers across Canada, accounting for 20% of the population, and Statistics Canada expects the ethnic population to almost double to 15 million by 2036. As this group grows into an increasingly dominant consumer group, retailers and manufacturers need to focus their strategies and products accordingly to ensure they connect with the right consumers at the right time.

Understanding whether consumer shopping trips are planned, reminded or made on impulse is important for retailers and manufacturers to understand, as it can help build plans to effectively reach desired consumers. So let’s break these three down a little bit:

  • Planned purchases are those that consumers intend to buy.
  • Reminded purchases are those that consumers likely need, but may not be top of mind or on a list of items to pick up. So consumers need an in-store prompt to remind them to put them into their shopping baskets; and
  • Impulse purchases are those that are unplanned and made in store simply because they appeal to a specific desire.

Interestingly, consumer approaches to these three trip types varies across demographics. For example, ethnic consumers don’t plan their shopping trips as much as the average Canadian consumer: only 62% of ethnic shoppers say they make planned purchases, compared with 71% of the average consumers. With a higher percentage of ethnic consumers making reminded and impulse purchases, they’re likely more receptive and responsive to in-store signage and displays.

But knowing how consumers shop is only part of the equation; knowing the products they’re buying is equally important. As ethnic households shop in Canada, they’re drawn to products with better-for-you attributes. Across six leading health attributes, ethnic consumers rank all as more important when shopping for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) than the average shopper. Natural ingredients lead the way, with 22% of ethnic consumers noting they influence their purchase decisions, followed by products without artificial ingredients (19%). As ethnic consumers shop, ensuring they’re aware of the health attributes in products could help sway their purchase decisions.

As natural ingredients play a role in purchase decisions for all consumers, it’s more important in some categories than others. When it comes to purchase influencers, ethnic consumers view the fresh food category as the most import to contain natural ingredients, with 31% stating it’s a factor in purchase decisions, compared with 26% of average consumers in Canada. Comparatively, as shoppers shop for items the snack category, less than 20% seek natural ingredients, as they allow themselves to indulge in this category.

As retailers and manufacturers prepare for this expanding consumer group, knowing who they are and how they shop will be helpful in developing long-term strategies to reach consumers. Planning and engagement options can boost pre- and in-store activation efforts to make an impact on the bottom line for both perimeter and centre of store items.


The insights in this article were derived from Nielsen’s Unleash the Power Of The Ethnic Consumer Study, January 2018.